Saturday, December 29, 2007


Still reeling from all that's happened in a very short time.  It doesn't help that the post-Christmas rush at the store isn't.  Today I probably checked through about a dozen people during my eight hour shift.  I spent the balance of my time facing the drug department, bringing in carts from the rain and hail and returning go back items to their places.  Anyone who came into the store today got great customer service, at least from me, because I was begging for things to do.  

I'm not sure where to go from here.  I have this feeling like I've been pushed off a cliff.  I'm fairly certain I can fly, but I'm not sure how well I can or where I should try to land.  It's all clouds and wind and storm when I look through one eye and a strange room with firelight and shadows watching me in another.

No, I'm not becoming schizophrenic so don't make an appointment for me and then drive me to it.  I think I'm just experiencing the equivalent of an emotional concussion.  Like a concussion, right now it doesn't feel bad.  I just feel fuzzy and disconnected and I have this strange sense of safety within chaos, and a sense that if I put a toe out it'll get lopped off.

Which means, of course, I have to put a toe out, or better, my whole foot, and start that first step toward walking.  Don't want to get stuck here.

Once upon a time I made a high altitude flight as part of my paragliding certification.  When I hit a strong updraft the universe showed me what it's really like to have a god lift you up.  It's like jumping off the high dive in reverse.  I had no control.  Wind, rather than gravity, had taken over and Its force overwhelmed me.

Sometimes all you can do is yell "Weeeee!"  Or in this case, all I can do is say none of this is about me.  It's about beings I care about and forces beyond all our control.  I doubt any of us will be inspired to yell "Weeee!" and put our hands in the air, but we can hold each other as long as we can and hope the wind sets us down gently.  But if holding on is what I should do, why do I feel like I should fly?  And where should I go?  So I'm going round and round.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What I Didn't Do for the Holidays

I didn't send out cards (yet! I still might!) and I didn't run around town delivering presents.  One by one I hope to tick things off my list, if not all then some of them.  This holiday has been one of the most intense since my father passed away on Christmas day in 1990.  Loss and shocking news, warmth and joy, and perfectly timed snow.  It's a lot for one person all at once.

So here's one thing off my list, a tag from Kevin, better late than never.  

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Can't I have both?  If I have to choose, then egg nog, but only if it's the real stuff and has rum in it.  And where's the mulled wine and spiced cider?  They always get left out.  Well, I guess they don't at our house.
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? He wraps them in real cloth with gorgeous ribbon.  That's how you can tell the gifts apart from the kind you get from family and friends.
3. Colored or white lights? White and the smaller the better, because they look like stars.  I like colors but white will always be my favorite, especially the bluish white.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Usually.  Not every year.  Unfortunately it doesn't grow this far north or I'd send Rory up an oak to gather it.  Sounds mean but he likes that sort of thing.
5. When do you put your decorations up? Changes year to year.  Usually shortly before Yule (December 21) because we bring in a living tree and it can only be in the house so long before it breaks dormancy.  Breaking dormancy during winter is a bad thing, btw.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Oh man, you're going to make me choose?  Roast duck.  Prime rib.  My grandmother's potato salad.  Spiral-sliced ham.  Homemade fruit compote (haven't had that in years!)  
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? My Uncle Frank (I miss you!) took my sister and I out for a walk in the snow while the family piled the presents they'd hidden around the house under the tree.  When we got back my mom rang a bell and announced Santa had arrived while we were gone.  It was a magical moment, with the quiet, peaceful time followed by the burst of sound and color.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? When I took up the torch and began giving.  I love playing my part.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes.  When I was a child we used to open all our gifts on the eve, and then stockings were for the morning.  These days we usually open a gift on Yule, a gift on Christmas eve and everything else on Christmas morning.  This schedule is the kids' choice--we'd be okay with opening them all on Yule but they want to delay gratification as long as possible.  We've also done the twelve days before but that became too much for us.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? With gifted and inherited decorations.  I don't think I've ever bought a decoration for myself, except tinsel.  Some years I did popcorn and cranberry strands but most years I do tinsel or ribbon and the ornaments and lights.
11. Snow: Love it or hate it? I love the snow.  I don't even try to drive in it most of the time, which is a treat.  I like being cooped up in the house on accidental purpose.
12. Can you ice skate? Yes.  I'm not very good but I learned from my father at a young age.  My father played ice hockey and he was very good.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? As a child, it was my very first 'grown up' stereo.  I love music and that was the best thing for a long time.  As an adult--I'm typing on it right now.  But these things change year to year. 
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Romance!  Actually, that was just to rib Kevin.  I love doing things with and for the kids and Rory.  It seems like we connect on a much deeper level during the holidays, whether it's holding vigil, keeping the flame, playing board games or running around town finding gifts and keeping secrets so that we can enjoy the moment of surprise when a gift is opened.  I love the sense of peace and calm in the morning, and being all together for more than an hour or two.  I love the break from the routine of work, eat and rest cycles and declaring this is family time, and it's wonderful that just about everyone else agrees and doesn't interfere.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Shortbread, truffles, cream puffs, rum balls, apple pie.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Vigil and the keeping of the flame.
17. What is on top of your tree? A crimson bird, of course.
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving? I love giving the perfect gift.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? The Holly and the Ivy.  I wish the original pagan version was still around.  Some folks have attempted to 'restore' it with mixed success.  I find it interesting that so much of the pagan lyrics survived, especially in the first verse and chorus.
20. Do you like candy canes? I like the small ones.  The big ones are just too much.  And they have to be real mint.  Flavors--yech.  I guess the cinnamon ones are okay.


Looks like my brother-in-law is in for a big fight, but one that he can outlast the enemy.  We're all thinking our best thoughts for him.

My grandmother suffered a blood clot injury that has permanently blinded her in one eye.  I'm just glad she didn't have a stroke.  More tests ensuing.  I thought from her description that something went wrong with a scar from her cataract surgery.  Now I'm so very sorry that I didn't worry more and insist that she go to the emergency room on Christmas Eve.  I guess no one expects these things to happen.  Secretly I hope that the doctors are wrong and that some sort of regeneration is possible so my beloved grandma can have sight restored to what had been her good eye.

In more lighthearted news, apparently we're in for a big snow storm.  I'm going to see if I can't get Rory to call in to work.  He probably won't, but it's worth a try.  The stuff they're having him do right now he's whipping through much more quickly than they've budgeted time for, so it won't hurt any projects, but on the other hand I don't think he wants to lose the work hours.  Plus, he prefers to be as dependable as is humanly possible.

I worked some more on my website.  It's really addicting.  I have to put some time into writing and marketing now, so that'll be it for the site for now.  It was fun doing something different.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Day Later

We're still having fun.  More snow, more inventive things to do with hot chocolate, more relaxation and playing with new toys.  Especially the kitties.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Merry One

We got an entertaining amount of snow today.  At one point I was thinking sheesh, whoever set us up for a white Christmas really outdid themselves.  Big, fluffy (meaning the air was really warm) flakes quickly gathered up on the ground.  We played Jimmy Buffett (not the Christmas album) and danced to our favorite songs, watched Terminator (the boy got the DVD as a gift) and played Chinese checkers, which I haven't been able to do forever because we didn't have a board.  

I wish I wasn't such a poopyhead yesterday.  I wanted to run around and deliver presents.  Instead I moped until we had to leave in the early afternoon for my mom's for Christmas Eve stuff.  We ate good food and talked and shared gifts and did family stuff in the house I grew up in.  Which is all for the good, but now I have lots of gifts under the shrub that need to be with their families and aren't yet.  It's the forest of undelivered toys.  I've been a very naughty Santa this year.

Still, we had a very good family day.  The house is warm, and it's still white outside.  I have lots of good memories.  Big dogs playing in the snow.  Mint hot chocolate.  Duck dinner.  Rory and Orion chasing each other around the house.  Birds darting around the feeders.  The quiet as traffic slows down to nearly non-existent.  Festive fire in the upstairs fireplace, and a vanilla candle burning on the altar.  Cats chasing a laser pointer.  Eating breakfast at the table, all of us together at once.  We have it very good here, and I'm very thankful for that.

Snow on the deck.   

Juncos, chickadees, towhees and nuthatches
 are our primary visitors.  Nuthatches don't like chickadees and visa versa.  They avoid each other when possible, but sometimes they can't avoid a squabble.  I was surprised that I didn't see any scrub jays today.  

Something about the snow makes our birds particularly voracious.  We've had much colder days without this many birds showing up at the feeder.  When snow comes it must be much harder for them to find food on the ground, and that would make anyone frantic, even if the snow is very thin like it was today.

Monday, December 24, 2007


This is the first morning in a long time that I've woken up depressed.  Bad things happen in life pretty often and most days I can flow with that, not take it personally, feel it without being crushed.  I'm not sure what made this morning different.  
We got a call a few days ago that my brother-in-law has cancer.  Test results come back today.  Doug is one of my favorite people, and he makes my sister (in law, full in heart) Kristi so happy.  Please think good thoughts for both of them.
When I first woke up I heard someone nibbling in the dog bowl and for whatever reason I assumed it was Mojo.  I about bolted out of bed, worried that Dakota would take exception and snap at him, but then I remembered.
"Free Falling" came on the radio this morning.  They played that song at Andy's funeral.  I guess it hit me especially hard because we usually see him at Christmastime.  Not long ago we got him a copy of The Richest Man in Babylon.  I don't know where I'm going with this--it's just in my head.

Now that you're all sad for me, I'll be a bad person and wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I hope you had a wonderful Yule.  The longest night of the year has passed.  It only gets lighter and warmer from here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shameless Plugs and a Dog Note

I wanted to mention that my website and Rory's website are both at a point that we'd love to have the word go out about them.  Tell your friends.  Tell your family.  We'll keep updating them and adding stuff, but what we have there now (I think) is nice enough that we'd be happy for visitors.  And please feel free to sign our guestbooks.  It's nice to see friendly names there.  I have a feeling that eventually the spam bots will find us, and at that point we'll have to shut them down.  Before that happens, we'd love to hear from everyone that stops by.

Second, a probably needless reminder that Rory's book is available on preorder from  He has a link to it from his website.

In other news, Finn has a yeast infection in his ears.  For those of you who have dogs with floppy ears in particular, but pretty much any dog, the ears should look really clean even if the rest of the dog isn't.  Dirty ears are often a sign of yeast or bacterial infections or mites.  Another sign is the head shaking.  Dogs shouldn't shake their heads very much.  This apparently is prime season for yeast infections in dogs, so keep a look out.  Finn is doing well and he'll be done with his meds in about ten days.  The vets were very happy to see him.  The last time he visited, he was about twenty pounds.  Now he's 88 and thriving.  Mojo's loss was hard on them too, and we all needed the pick-me-up of a healthy animal coming in for a minor problem.  

You're such a good dog, Finn.  Thank you for being a love.

IKEA of Doom

I'm going to take a stab at writing about something else besides Mojo.  My heart is full and my arms are empty and it's hard not to constantly express myself in an effort to dull the ache.

We went to IKEA yesterday, before we saw the vet.  The boy had gone with his grandma once before but it was my first time.  I went in determined to window shop and not buy a thing.

Ha ha ha.  Foolish mortal.  None can withstand the IKEA, none!

I started out great.  All that furniture, and I could just look and admire and daydream.  Fabulous pillows, you do not tempt me.  Inexpensive sleeper beds in just the right color, get thee behind me!  Gorgeous wardrobe that would fit beautifully in our closet and is a perfect Asian-influence style that I know Rory would love--whatever.  We don't need it right now.  Our house has all that we need in it.  So there!

And then, after lunch, we hit the downstairs.  I'm sure it always starts with a little thing.  There's a hamper for the boy, so cheap, cheaper than what I can get with my employee discount, and since he's getting the big furniture from grandma, maybe I can pitch in with this small, inexpensive item.  Done and done.

But then there was a lamp, a perfect present for someone who really needed it.  And the mixing/salad bowls with covers, so cheap (under $2 for a set of three!) and yet so high quality, and on and on.  Everything was so much less expensive than I could get it for anywhere else.  

Finally we got the furniture and headed for check out.  But first, a peek at the As Is.  I couldn't even get out of there without taking a stool for the boy with me.  And at checkout, I dash to get our favorite ginger cookies and some coffee for Rory.

I guess it could have been worse.  Note to self--work on developing immunity to IKEA.

Goodbye, Mojo

We were all wrong.

Mojo had FIP.  We had to put him to sleep.  That's pretty much all I have to say about that right now.  It's just too painful.  We loved him a lot, and we miss him desperately. 

Goodbye, Mojo.  We love you.  We'll love you forever.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Better or Worse

Yet another post about the Mojonator.

The level of Mojonocity appears to have taken a small upturn.  He's slightly more active, and to me he looks like he's gained more weight.  He's starting to wash himself, mostly just his face but still.  He hardly cries anymore.  One thing that concerns me is that occasionally his tongue gets stuck.  This is something that cats, after they've washed themselves, do, or I've seen it in very young kittens during sleep, usually with nursing noises.  With him I suspect possible brain damage, a not-surprising possibility.  Nonetheless, if I had to score this, Monday afternoon would have been a 2 on a scale of 1-10 in what his chances looked like, and this evening I feel much more like an optimistic 6.  

The thing I'm really dreading now is that eventually he'll have to come off the antibiotics and we'll have to reduce his steroids.  What will happen then?  The last time we mucked with his medication he almost died.  Now he's doing better.  I hope it's just because he's healing, but giving him meds twice a day is awfully reassuring.  It gives me something to do.  It seems to help.  It may not have anything at all to do with him getting better, but that's my feeling.

Tomorrow afternoon we're taking him to the Feline Medical Center for some attention from a specialist.  I didn't think he'd make it to Wednesday when I made the appointment.  Now, I think we'll definitely have him in for an examination and hopefully some insight, though I'm not counting on it.

Possibilities we've developed--

He's cleaned up after Nikita almost every time.  What if she didn't eat her pill one day and he got it?
What if the shelter, which feeds the animals donated food, got a batch of recalled food?  If he had hemobartenella, he would fall into the category of at-risk animals that would be most likely to die from exposure to the chemicals.
His dicey history might also play into this.  As a recent addition to the shelter, he may have gotten into rat poison.

It's all speculation for now.  In case he did get Nikita's pill, he's no longer allowed to clean up after her.  In fact, no one is except a person with a broom and paper towels.  Other than that, we'll just hope, and pray, and give him lots of love.  I had a really good moment with him when I got home.  The whole family gathered around him and Dakota.  While Dakota got belly rubs (she made a total fool of herself to keep getting belly rubs, snorting and rolling around and making faces) I got to tickle his chin and rub his cheeks, and I was rewarded with the most amazing purr and look of contentment.  Better or worse, I can sleep easy knowing that it was a good idea to hold off asking about whether we should put him to sleep.  I think he's happy, certainly not all the time and he's certainly in pain, but he's happy to be here.  Hopefully he'll continue to be happy, for better or worse.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hang in there, Mojo

I hate writing this.

Mojo has taken a turn for the worse.

His red blood cell count continues to drop, and he's displaying more signs of liver failure, namely, neurological impairment.  He's confused, acting drunk, one foot is folding over, and he appears to be going blind (although that may be temporary.)  The vet is stumped.  He's the topic of not so much debate but flustered helplessness amid the entire clinic.  His emergency consult this morning was not encouraging.  Doc John's compassionate language all had the same tone--brace yourself, we may lose this one.  He became very, very technical about the processes, and I was able to follow it all.  He wanted input on treatment simply because there is no good treatment for liver failure.  You just have to hope that the liver regenerates and minimize the damage that a low-functioning liver imposes on the system in the meantime.  That means more antibiotics to help reduce gut fermentation because much of what comes out of the gut must be processed by the liver (including a lot of alcohols) in order to not become toxic to the brain.  The only real good news is that his weight is holding, may have even increased, and his kidney function is fine.

It's really heartbreaking around here.  When he's awake he's staggering around, crying inconsolably.  He bumps into things and isn't sure what he wants or needs or even where he is.  Cuddling works for short periods of time.  The only time we get relief (him and us) is when he sleeps.  We have the basket Carole gave us set up by the wood stove.  He's sleeping there now.  It's his favorite place in the world right now, that and being held although he can only tolerate that for short stretches.

So we're all very sad here.

Meanwhile, at the CWAH, there's a beautiful adult white female cat up for adoption.  It was a stab in the heart to see her, and at the same time a kind of promise from the universe.  I just don't know what that promise is trying to tell me, except to keep hope that he'll either make it, or that there are an endless number of ways to express our love even when tragedy is cutting us apart.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Maybe He Needed Coffee First

People come up with the dumbest excuses to return things.  Either that, or they are just too stupid to own certain things.  Or both.

So yesterday I got a return for a coffee press, aka French press.  I always ask if there's anything wrong with the return.

"I brought this back before," he tells me.  "The inner part was defective, so they opened another one and gave the inside of that one to me.  It didn't work either.  It's dangerous."

"Dangerous?"  Now I'm intrigued.

"When I plunge it, it squirts hot coffee out."

I stare at the return slip as I write it, trying not to change my expression.  I have to fight not to continue the conversation, because I desperately want to ask.  Did you plunge it very, very slowly?  Because there is no coffee press in the world where you can get good filtration and also have the capability to plunge with any amount of speed.  A coffee press requires patience.  So don't bother getting another one if you don't understand how this works.  While you're at it, try not to purchase any other multi-part tools that require some forethought, say, for example, a pitcher with a locking lid.

Okay, that was particularly snarky, but dang!  Can't he just admit that he brought it back because he doesn't want it anymore?  Or did he really not know how to use it?

Maybe he filled it up too high, but I'm not even going to get into this, because even an especially simple person should be able to figure out if they've filled something too much to operate it.

Or, hey, most likely scenario--in order to figure out how to properly use a coffee press, he needed a cup of coffee first.  Darn those catch-22s.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Staying Warm

He's incontinent, exhausted and dehydrated but he's still with us.  I think he might even be a little better.  Hang in there, little Mojo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mojo update

Mojo is still feeling really terrible.  He tells me about it all the time.  Instead of spending the day on housework and writing, I spent it cuddling the sad little white thing.  It whined and pawed my face and whined some more and demanded to be picked up and made to feel better.  I can hardly deny him.  He's very seriously ill.

So I called the vet and there was actual good news with the bad.
His liver enzymes are bad.  We're not going to dig him a grave yet but it's serious.
His platelet count is very low.  That explains why he bled from the blood draw so long.
He's severely anemic, but not quite bad enough to justify a blood transfusion.
He does not have feline leukemia or AIDS.  Yay!
We haven't gotten his toxo and some other tests back yet, but if he's negative for those, we're looking at a good chance for recovery with the current antibiotic.  

Determining whether he has haemobart (what the vet calls it for short) or not isn't easy.  It's more of a process of elimination paired with liver enzymes, anemia and low platelet count that diagnose haemobart.  If we've caught it in time, which it seems we have since he's eating and walking around, he should make a full recovery.  Now we just wait to see if there's anything else wrong with him.  If not, we may actually be out of the woods since he's on the right antibiotic now.

Keeping my fingers crossed ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Think Good Thoughts for Mojo

Turns out Mojo is more sick than we thought.  He's not in horrible shape, but he's not good.  Already a thin kitty, he's lost a few ounces since he first went to the vet.  

The culprit may be a blood parasite (more info here.)  He's being treated for it while his blood work is being done.  His eye color change is probably from jaundice, so they'll be blue again when he's well.  For now he's in a somewhat precarious position, so think good thoughts.  The things he has going for him include that he's still pretty strong, he's eating well, and as far as we know he's not immune compromised.  This is a little suspicious so even though he passed his tests at the cat shelter, he's being retested for feline leukemia, AIDS and all that.  So keep your fingers crossed.
The Mojonator has felt better.  Yes, that's blood at his throat from his blood draw.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Masks and Amazon

The Masks polish is coming along.  Yes, I'm done with the rewrite (yay!) and now I'm fiddling on a detailed level--line editing, theme stuff, scene choreography, and juicing up or drying out description and narration.  Because this is me and my favorite color is purple, I do more drying than juicing, especially with narration.

The news on Amazon is that Rory's book, Meditations on Violence, is now available for pre-order on  Talk about scary moment, especially since we haven't held a copy in our hands yet.  For $18.95 you can have a piece of Rory's brain.  As far as I'm concerned, that's a serious bargain.  

Friday, December 07, 2007

All my favorite animals

Haven't done an animal post in a while.
Top of the list is Mojo.  Being a kitten, he has a clear advantage in getting attention over the others.  The cuteness factor is almost sickening.  The boy carries him around saying things like "We need a Mojometer to measure the Mojonator's mojoness."  Mojo is also getting over an ear infection--he won't be able to exploit pity points too much longer though because his ear isn't crusty anymore.  We're also involved in an age debate.  He's about the size of a five month old, but his eyes are changing color from the palest blue to a kind of yellow, almost green, not gold kind of yellow.  I did a little google and kitten eyes change color around 8 weeks to 12 weeks (or so they say, online sources being so reliable and all.)  Our little white kitty couldn't be that young, could he?  Seems unlikely, but ...  What do you think?  Can the Mojonity be a mere 3 months old?  If so, he's going to be a big, big kitty.

The other kitties are doing well.  And speaking of big kitties, the Wiz has grown a bit, some in weight but mostly in stature.  He just gets more handsome every day.  Lucky, on the other hand, is looking a bit tired.  He may have a cold.  The Huntress is sleek and shiny and still the baddest cat in the house, although she's exercising her snippiness a bit less lately.  We actually had all four of them sitting within three feet of each other outside my office.  Not sure what that was about.  Maybe they were having an executive kitty meeting and couldn't find kitten daycare for the Mojonation.  I'm sure if it was a meeting, it was about the Kota.

Dakota is doing really well.  She's wanting to play, is excited when we get up in the morning or when someone gets home and it's not just because she has to go potty, either.  The puppies keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  Beast is mellowing a bit, and Nikita is hanging in there.  Nikita I always worry about.  She's on two cans of wet food a day now and medication every day without fail to keep the cold weather from bothering her joints as much and to keep her warm and her weight up.

The goats are very, very fluffy right now, and the white ones are very white.  That's one of many things completely different from them and the dogs.  When the weather gets wet out the goats may be sloppy from the knees down but the rest of them is pristine because they won't play or lay in the mud.  They'll go in the barn to chew their cud.  The dogs, the puppies especially, get filthy in this weather and we'll have to have a bath day soon.  

Ugh.  Bath day.  Just like the dogs, I dread it, and just like the dogs, I like the part where they're all clean and racing around the house like fools, playing.  That's the best fun ever, that and seeing beautiful Brian sitting with Rory watching tv.  I don't know if watching all that fake, glorified violence is good for him, but Brian seems to really like it.  :-)

Oh, and surprisingly, we still have a chicken, the smartest chicken in the world.  I hope she does okay this winter.

And to my favorite animal, happy day that will live forever in infamy, my love.  Seventeen years, over half my life, nearly half of yours.  Good times.  Very good times.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Barbie Crazy Lady

I'm at the lobby, minding everyone's business because that's my job, when in comes a lady with two large bags of returns.  This happens from time to time.  In fact, it happened twice, once with an employee's spouse, of all things, with Christmas lights.  When I thought about it the second time someone brought back bags and  bags of lights it started to make sense.  You buy 10,000 Christmas lights or, in one case, twenty, and you only need eight to do the roof, so you bring back the other twelve.  
Anyway, by now you've guessed that the lady was bringing back Barbies, not lights.  Three Barbies with horses, and four smaller boxes.  I started having bad thoughts, and they immediately became worse thoughts when she declared, "I have just been all over town, Walmart, Target and Fred Meyer, and nobody would take these back.  I'm never shopping there again.  They have the most ridiculous return policies.  They require a receipt!" 
Imagine that, I think sarcastically.  That they would require proof that you purchased something before they allow you to return it.  The nerve!  "Well," I say soothingly, "It's probably because of all the fraud."
"The fraud?"
"People returning things they've stolen and stuff like that."
"Well I can't imagine anyone stealing stuff like this.  It's too big."
"Oh, you'd be surprised," I told her.  "People are shameless.  They hide it in their baby carriages or strap it to their legs under skirts.  It makes it hard for everyone."  I look at her.  "So I guess you don't have a receipt."
No, she doesn't.  So I call my boss over and start scanning things.  Imagine my surprise when it's actually ours!  When I look more closely, some of them even still have the store price stickers on them.  My internal sarcasm withers in shame and hides.  They still might be stolen, but I never believed that.  I had been pretty sure they simply were purchased somewhere else on extreme sale and were being returned for regular price here, but those thoughts retreated and I started filling out the refund slip.  "Looks like these are $15.99 and these are $11.99."  
She was absolutely sure that she'd paid about $40 for the big dolls, so away she goes to the toy aisle to check.  Meanwhile, my boss takes one of the boxes to go look for a receipt on the system.  
What he finds, and what unfolds, surprises us all.
"That's the lady," a coworker who works the floor tells me excitedly in passing.
"What lady?" I say.
"That lady who bought $900 in Barbies.  I remember her!"
And then the boss emerges.  "I found her receipt.  Look at this!"  It's three pages of receipt, totalling to $900 of Barbie stuff.  The floor worker remembered right.
Suddenly we're all over helping her.  After dealing with so much return fraud and ridiculous things like returning a bar of candy, it's such a pleasure to handle even a big return for an actual customer who brings our store business.  I'll be nice to just about anyone, even people I know for a fact are stealing from us, but I'll be actually happy to help someone who shops our store because they like us and they appreciate us being around, even if they never buy another thing.  It's the reaction a retail employee has to good customers.  We can't help it.  We love good customers because they're such a contrast to the bad customers who normally (and unfairly) get all the attention because of the chaos they create.  Good customers normally fend for themselves very nicely so we don't always get a chance to go out of our way to help them.
So now the barbie crazy lady has an entourage.  The boss hand delivers her return at the register.  She decided to buy something, another barbie, of course, apparently one that she didn't have.  The boss makes her a copy of her receipt so that now she has one, and everyone's happy.
Wherever you are, Barbie crazy lady, thanks!  You made my day.  I hope you enjoy your Barbie.  I know I'll enjoy fantasizing about your house, and your Barbie displays, and your fabulous ebay Barbie business, and fabulous you.  
Signed, Kami, the crazy writer lady

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

So Far So Good

 We're still dry here in the office.  In other so far, so good news, and are officially live and hopefully well.  I think I got rid of all the place holder text, web links and email links with real ones or deleted the ones we didn't want, took care of some awkward writing, replaced Rory's home page intro with a modified one that sounds more like him, and took care of some ugly spots by replacing them with prettier things.  We still don't have the ability to load our own pics onto the website.  That will be coming soon, I hope.

I've got a big house cleaning and organizing goal, and so far I've made a few dents.  They're not as big of dents as I'd like, but in a lot of ways a household overhaul is a lot like moving (except that you don't go anywhere) in that what looks like a few days work just keeps going on and on until you want to start working with an axe and a flamethrower.  Normally a house overhaul is something I do halfway at best and I don't start until spring, when the good weather inspires me to go out and do crazy things like wash the windows, sweep off the porch, and burn piles of accumulated paperwork I don't need anymore.  I see no reason to put it off, which is a good enough sign to me to just go for it right here in December.

In the meantime I've got to keep writing, especially the query letters, which means putting together a final draft of my Masks synopsis and then modifying it according to the guidelines for each place I'm submitting to.  Ugh.  As much as I feel like I'm pulling teeth when I edit, when I'm forced to market I feel like I'm inside an iron maiden and they're tightening the thing incrementally every minute or so.  

I really need an agent, which will involve marketing but hopefully just in the short term, because I can take this iron maiden thing for only so long.

That's enough of all that.  Next entry, more crazy ladies, I promise.  I've got a good one this time.  Barbie crazy lady.  Wherever you are Barbie crazy lady, enjoy your $95 or so plus tax return!  

Monday, December 03, 2007

Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down

So after working hard on setting up drafts of and on the web, I had to take chirontraining temporarily down due to technical problems with editing that were not going away.  I can't fix any typos, add stuff to or tweak awkward phrases because the same problems that plague chiron plague kzmiller, but kzmiller doesn't have as many issues as chiron so I didn't think I'd be as embarrassed to leave it out there flapping in the web wind.  Not that anyone except my closest friends will ever look at the darned thing, but there you have it.  My husband's coworkers do occasionally search around for him and he has quite a following on his blog, so chiron really needed to be lots, lots better than it is.  And it will be, provided iPower can fix this.

I'm really enchanted with iPower's low prices.  I'm not enchanted by their extremely long wait times for tech support, usually an hour or more on hold.  I'm sure they're not happy either.  They're flying on a new platform and it's making life difficult for everyone.  They're doing their best for me--I've been passed along to a level 2 tech.  I have to admit I don't know what that is, but it sounds like they've taken the next step to solve the problem.  So wish me luck, wish iPower luck, wish the poor souls who need help with their websites luck as they brave the hold music with a crick in their elbows and sore necks.  And may patience rule the day.

In other news not related to Kami's obsession with getting business-related webpages online, we've had a local flood warning issued by the weather service.  I get to see if our french drain will help deter the yearly flood 'o the office.  I hope so, because I have paper stuff on my floor.  Again.  As usual.
Maybe I'll work on cleaning some of this stuff up today.  Ugh.  On my list of projects during Kami's Marketing Month will be to finish tiling in here and organize my office.  Wish me luck with that too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Nano Win and Website Building

I crossed the Nanowrimo finish line a day early, and proceeded to get myself entangled (after a long, late shift at work) in website building for the very first time.  But before I get into that:

I have to celebrate!  WEEEEEEEE!  I won I won I won I won I won!

There.  That's quite enough for the likes of me.

I started setting up Rory's new website at first because he's got a book coming out and also because the sooner I set it up, the sooner he can start putting in more than just the placeholders I cut and pasted and wrote in.  Looking at it this morning, there are some things that don't make any sense.  I blame the late hour.  I called it quits about 1:30am today.  Normally I wouldn't have worried about having placeholders, but being a complete novice at this, I didn't want to leave blank spaces that we might not later catch or see.

That fear turned out to be unwarranted, as one thing that I left blank was still available to edit.  Doh!

I'm definitely annoyed at my own incompetence.  I have some neat stuff available to play with on Microsoft (evil!hiss!) Office, which is a format I'm comfortable manipulating, but I don't know how to do an ftp download to get stuff from Office onto the web.  So I'm using their pre-existing pages, and found some really nice ones, but I don't know how to add or subtract segments yet.  Add onto this that apparently the poopyhead interface is screwed up for Macs  and you have the sense of frustration that began to build yesterday.  Text editing fields turn black, and since the font is black I can't see what I'm typing and I don't see a way to change the text color while I'm typing.  Gah!  This seems like a basic problem that should not exist on the interface because I'm sure I'm not the only Mac user out there.  And I was unable to successfully download any pics from Jasmine onto the web for whatever weird, poopyhead reason.  I can do it here on Jestablog, but apparently not with iPower at this time.

It's a learning experience, and not a horrible one.  Even when I'm at my most annoyed, I'm still having fun.  It's all shiney and new goodness.

It's especially fun to look forward.  Coming to a web near you:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Within Spitting Distance

Nanowrimo ends with the month of November.  We're almost there.  

Some desperate souls are still under 20,000 and yet still trying to reach the finish line.  I've been there, tried to do that, failed but felt valiant in the attempt.  I cheer them on.

Some souls have their 50,000 and more, but are trying to reach 'The End' in their manuscript.  Some are closer than others to achieving their goal.  To me, this is the ideal for Nanowrimo, and I cheer them on.

Some, like me, are close to 50,000 but not quite there yet.  I have 48,481 words.  I won't reach 'The End' but I'll have crossed the finish line, and that's nothing to smirk at, which you'll know if you ever try Nanowrimo for yourself. 

There are quite a few writers who can write over 100,000 words during that time, and I used to count myself among them.  Something weird happened along the way.  I'm not sure if I do more housework during Nano (as opposed to only doing laundry or dishes if I run out of something) or if it's the part time job or if I write with more consideration on a first draft or what.  In a way, it doesn't matter.  What matters is that people are getting out there and writing lots, learning lots, getting past lots of road blocks, encountering problems they didn't know they had and they learn how to get past them.   Writing is one of those underestimated skills.  A lot of people believe that if they have a good idea, and since they know what they like to read, they can write.  They've been writing since kindergarten, or even before, right?  Well, there's a lot of suppose between that right and write.  Like any skill it takes practice, it takes feedback, it takes thinking and more practice and time and lots and lots of practice and education, learning from peers and pros, and tons of practice.

A lot of pro writers exceed the daily word count to produce a Nano, while a lot of pro writers are well under it.  Pulling a number completely out of my ass, I think many pros aim for about 1000 words in their daily writing, and Nano asks that you do 1667.  It's a fun pace, a somewhat forgiving pace provided you don't have too many zero word days, a brutal pace if you have lots of interruptions or there's a crisis in the midst of November (~which, as we all know, would never happen!~)  Let's cheer the mad, the inspired and the sleepless in these final hours.  I'll cheer me on, and them on, cheer everyone on, and hopefully encourage some of you out there who've been thinking about it to join us next year.

Go Nano!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I've got six thousand, seven hundred and ninety words to write on my Nano novel today.  Well, ideally today.  I work for the next two days and I don't anticipate having much writing time.  So why am I wasting my time here blogging?

Because sometimes I just need to warm up before I get started.  And sometimes I need to face that number.  Over six thousand words.  That's a long writing day, and I do have other things to do, like pee, and eat.  I can actually do substantially more than that in a day, but it takes the joy right out of writing.

There, I've whined, I've faced the number, and I'm ready to buckle down.

Nano finish, here I come.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Inconvenienced Poopyhead

Tis the season for poopyheads.  

I have an ongoing conversation with the customers about the holidays.  It's a strange conversation, because for me it's all the same, long discussion but they only participate in thirty second to one minute snippets.  A particularly brilliant customer pointed out that she far, far preferred Thanksgiving to Christmas.  No pressure to get the right presents or feel a need to overspend to make others feel loved, no overcommercialization outside of the constant push to buy your entire meal pre-prepped at your local grocery store, etc.  Just family and friends getting together to feast, and maybe watch a parade or football or a holiday classic.

I really like that observation.

Contrast this to my poopyhead customer yesterday.  She wheels up an overflowing cart full of Stuff and Things and starts unloading it, scowling.  Why she came to my counter I'll never know--my station that day is the smallest and is meant for fast transactions and tobacco and razor sales, though we don't have a sign up or anything.  I'm completely unable to help unload, or reload, bags.  She doesn't wait for me to ring things through but keeps loading until it starts to fall over, and then she barks at me to help catch it so it doesn't all tumble to the ground.  Then she scoots over and tells me she wants all her stocking stuffers in one bag.  That would really help.

Eager to improve her mood and keep myself in the running for queen of customer service, I do my best to obey.  Problem is that she has things like sample sizes of baby powder, toothpaste and such included as stocking stuffers along with the traditional chocolates and beanie babies.  Rather than sort them into piles or something she just waits for me to ring them through and impatiently rearranges things from one bag into another when I guess wrong. 

I'm almost done when she says she wants me to call someone to help her out.
"Sure!"  I tell her.
"Call them now."
"I'm not supposed to do that until I'm done ringing the purchase through."
"Well I don't want to wait here for ten minutes while they get around to coming up here.  I know how this works."  Okay, now I'm steamed, so I smile at her and page housewares.  Carrie, bless her heart, is there in ten seconds.

And this isn't even the beauty part.

She tells me "I have two of those and two of those, and I want them rung at the end."  She hands me an organizer of plastic drawers such as a crafter might use.  I obediently follow her command, only to find while I'm bagging them up that the two organizer drawers are *not* the same.  They're about the same size, but one is three drawers with a flip top and the other is five smaller drawers.  I rang up two of the five smaller drawers.  Worse yet, I've already totalled (over $300 of stuff) and the machine is printing off the receipts in hopes of getting Carrie out of here so she can get back to the floor and waiting on customers at the photo-electronics counter.
Naturally, since these were the last items rung, by her request, I've already hit the total key, ran her card, and it authorized.  We're at the point of no return.  Good.  Ness.
"I'm sorry, I just realized these aren't the same," I tell her.  I put them on the counter and she looks them over.
"I don't want this one," she says, shoving the five drawer organizer at me.  "I want two of this one."  She jiggles the flip top.
I'm tempted to tell her just get another flip top and we'll call it square, but I have a sinking feeling I rang up the more expensive one.
"How much does this cost?" she asks, jiggling the flip top one.
"Um, the five drawer is $7.49.  I don't know how much the other one is."  
"Well can't you just check?"
"The receipt is still printing out.  I have to wait until it finishes printing out."
"Just take this one off, then."
"I'm sorry, that has to be taken care of at the customer service desk," I tell her.  "Just sign here on your receipt and take everything over there."
"Can't you just refund my money for the organizer?" she asks.
"Sorry, I'm not authorized to do that.  If you just sign here they'll be able to write you a refund--"
"Well that's inconvenient," she snaps.
"I'm sorry for the inconvenience.  If you would please sign here--"
"I'm not signing anything until this is fixed."
I do a price verify on the flip top and my heart sinks.  $6.99.  I'm not even going to offer.  She's going to blow her top if I suggest we get her another flip top when it costs less.  She'll want her dollar.  Gah!  Darn you flip top organizer, why did you have to cost less?  If only you cost more!  I know my boss would be all over getting her out of the store at any cost, and this would be minor.  But no ...
"I'm sorry, I can't fix this," I tell her.
The customer behind her says, "The customer service desk is right over there.  They'll be able to help you."
She storms off, leaving Carrie to mind her cart.  Carrie doesn't dare leave, in case the woman might come back and feel like she was abandoned.  I can hear her chewing apart the lobby person from where I'm checking about how horrible I was to her.

Merry Christmas, ma'am.  I'm sure everyone will be delighted that you went through so much effort and trouble to get them sample-sized deodorant, weathering the horrible inconvenience of a self-created problem.  Yes, it was partly my fault.  I should have been doing my job instead of doing what she was telling me to do.  Yes, pleasing the customer is the bulk of my job but if I had rung through her order accurately using my own eyes instead of doing what she asked me to do, there would have been no error, and no fuss, and Carrie would have only have had to wait on her majesty for a few minutes.  I'm sure this makes her feel powerful, to prove how incompetent retail workers really are, and how much a trial it is to shop for presents.

Where is the excitement?  The pleasure found in generosity?  Was there ever a time in our own generation's history when people bought beautiful but modestly-priced, thoughtful gifts and enjoyed the spirit of giving?  I thought I used to do that, but I have to admit I've been getting stressed about it the past few years.

Well, the incovenienced poopyhead had cinched it for me this year.  I'm not going to be that.  If I can't find something nice and sweet and modest I'm going to give a card and gift card with my most heartfelt wishes.  I refuse to succumb to deodorant stocking stuffers and Easter-basket-style packaged over-priced gift sets of bath products just because I can't find anything on a store shelf that will bring real pleasure to the person I'm shopping for.  If I get a bath product, it's going to be Burt's Bees or that wonderful company that produced the glorious bath salts I got for my birthday and it's going to be something they'll want and use.  If I get deodorant it'll be because my son asked could he please have that darling deodorant in the window, please or please!  

So shall it be!

Poopyhead shopper.  :raspberry:  Take that, commercial Christmas!  

All my favorite songs

Sometimes music is too distracting to have on while I'm writing.  But when the music is composed of very well known faves, I can sink in beyond the lyrics and get into a great rhythm.  After spending a few mindless hours loading songs, I now have 272 or so faves that play at random while I type.  No commercials, no skipping past songs I don't like, no disk swapping.  It just goes on forever.  Well, twenty hours anyway.

I love that.

Overheard at the checkstand yesterday: 
"We combed over the place for hours and hours.  No blood, no hair.  He asks how we could have possibly missed that.  I don't have an answer for that."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Home Duck Home

I managed to survive Black Friday at work.  It wasn't that bad, actually.  We rarely had more than two people in line at a given station.  Of course, we had sixteen cashiers.  Yes, sixteen.  We have eight regular register stations and the lobby, and whenever someone took a break or lunch someone took their place, plus some started work early and some came in for the closing shift (which overlap during the busiest time of the day, which happens to be lunch time) so all sixteen people had something to do at all times.  

By six the shopping crowd had burned itself out and everyone apparently went home for dinner, so my boss gave me the option of leaving early.

"Yes!" I cried and closed myself off.  Hurricane winds swept up in my wake as I dashed to the CSM and started to count out.  I came home to duck dinner.  Bliss.

Today:  Nano, laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and organizing.  Huzzah!  It's been a long time since I've had a full day at home.  I've missed being here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kami Becomes a Zombie

One of the ideas I put forth to someone who was really looking forward to the Zombie Apocalypse was how sucky it would be if you ended up being one of the zombies.  Now that's no fun at all.

That became my fate after OryCon, although I don't think this is the start of the Apocalypse and hopefully my case is reversible.

I slogged through work today.  I had to keep moving because I was literally falling asleep while standing up.  But I had a nice laugh at the expense of a customer.  She seemed nice, really, and I wish her the best.  I doubt she realized the humor in her words, though.  Her mother explained to me on the sly that she'd recently divorced a real creep recently and had moved back home.  Then, separately, the girl told me that she graduated from high school in 2003.  She'd gotten a membership card before she married, she thought.  I hunted through records and pestered three stores before admitting defeat.  
"I can give you a membership as a courtesy," I told her.
"Oh no!  I can pay the five dollars."
"You can always wait, hunt through your things.  Maybe your card will turn up."
This very young, very pretty woman-girl who was already divorced four years after graduating from high school smiled and said, "I doubt it will.  I'm good at getting rid of things."

Yes, my dear, apparently you are.

Shuffling right along while moaning, I have the Mighty Transfer to look forward to.  I'll probably spend some time on it tonight, but mostly I plan on sleeping and then finishing up as much as I can tomorrow.

Which means it's time to stare blankly a moment, realize there are no brains directly in front of me, turn, and shuffle, moaning, in a new direction.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Movies that Make Me Cry

I'm having a bad night, so it's nicely coincidental that at work I read an article about movies that made people cry. It's been blogged about before all over the web, but what the heck, I'm feeling dispirited anyway. Might as well throw in my two cents. They had a top ten list that included The Green Mile, Old Yeller, Terms of Endearment, Ghost and so forth. They mentioned Schindler's List, but it didn't make the top ten and that's when I thought Huh? Not that I can do better, but here are mine, not ten exactly but my list of sob-inducing movies that didn't make the top ten list in the article.

1. Schindler's List--Let's start with the honorable mention from the article and put it on top. This movie is so hard to watch people often watch it just once, even though they report that it was one of the best movies they've ever seen.
2. Forrest Gump--This movie got so much hype it turned people off from watching it. Too bad, because I'm right there with Forrest leaking and snurffling when he's talking to his beloved, buried Jenny. And his little boy--goodness. And there's happy tears at the end, and on and on. I even cry during the credits, dang it!
3. Big Fish--The hardest part for me is when his son carries his father to the water, with all the people his father has loved there to bid him farewell, and his father swims away. But they don't let us off the hook that easy, nope. We go back to the hospital. Brutal. Pass the kleenex, please!
4. Bridge to Terabithia--The ending was terrible, as in some Hollywood jerk couldn't be satisfied with the boy and his sister crossing the bridge together but had to turn it into a bad facsimile of a Hallmark moment. Nonetheless, when I want to feel deeply and let the darkness take me away I grab this movie, some chocolate, a cup of tea and a handkerchief and brace for impact after the museum trip.
5. Braveheart--William Wallace, no matter how many times you're hurt and betrayed, you keep trying. When Wallace sees his beloved as a kind of ghost among the crowd of spectators while he's being disemboweled, I can't take it. Waaaaaaaaah! There are just so many difficult moments in this movie I want to curl up in a ball and rock.
6. What Dreams May Come--Has its moments, good and bad, but when push comes to shove this has to make the list of movies that wring tears from my eyes and forces me to stifle sobs. Robin Williams has a spotty track record but he does well in this. In many places the setting alone makes my throat ache. And then they meet again. Sniff!
7. Cyrano de Bergerac (French remake)--No one can take his panache. Emotional agony by death of a thousand paper cuts, and then it goes in for the kill. Gerard Depardieu is the one and only Cyrano for me. Roxanne, you are unworthy. I miss the semi-yearly tradition of Cyrano, brie cheese, red wine and croissants I used to have. I really need to have a Cyrano night again sometime soon.
8. Fellowship of the Ring--Kudos to Sean Bean for the horrifically beautiful death of Boromir. I felt every arrow, and wanted to soothe his regrets right along with Aragorn. It's not your fault, Boromir. Stupid ring, stupid stupid ring ...
9. Return of the King--While we're at it, when the ships sail, I lose it. I'm filled with joy, and pain, and longing. To the white shore, and a swift sunrise. Geez, it makes me tear up even now.
10. City of Angels--This movie got a lot of flack because apparently most people liked an earlier version rather than the remake. Well I didn't see the original, so this one makes my list. If I ever plan to see the original I'll let you guys know so that you can buy stock in tissue paper first.
11. Charlotte's Web--This movie has become threadbare over the years for me, but Charlotte's song about Mother Earth and Father Time will always get to me so long as I have a soul.
12. Watership Down--I'm not ashamed to say that animations can affect me just as deeply as a drama filmed with the world's finest actors. Bright Eyes, ah yes, I know he survives but dang. It still hurts like a sonuvagun. The movie hits hard with that feeling of loss.
13. Don Juan de Marco (with Johnny Depp)--Happy, happy tears. Chokes me up every time. Why not? And the music swells. Can't ... see ... I need a hug!
14. Toy Story 2--There's something about abandoning a cowgirl doll that kills me. Argh! It's just one point in the movie that makes me cry, but man is it ever reliable.
15. Grumpier Old Men--"I think God forgot about me." If you gotta go, I guess at a venerable age, in the midst of a beautiful love affair, is not a bad time. Here's a rose for the old man. Normally I'd pass on this sort of movie, but I have to admit I'm a long time fan of Sophia Loren, who still has my vote as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Ann-Margret is also in this film. Boy, if I hold up as well against time as these two women, I'll be a happy (if tearful) Kami. I'm glad I caved and watched this. I wasn't disappointed.
16. Somewhere in Time--I almost left this off the list because it's been so long since I've seen it, I don't know how well it holds up. But I still feel the pain after all these years, so here it is, warts, tears and all.

Additions, subtractions, disagreements, rotten vegetables and thumbs up welcome, as always.

Snufflingly yours, Kami

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day Three

Mojo is roaming the house now. We keep calling him a she because he's so pretty. It gives me a new perspective on writing about Jasmine in Mayhem.

Lucky is friendly, as he is to everyone, but Wizard is surprisingly concerned and hostile, although he's never done more than hiss at Mojo. Even Huntress seems a bit more tolerant, although she also hisses at Mojo. Dakota is just confused about this new member of the family, though not any more confused about Mojo than she is about anything else in this house. Mojo acts as if he's lonely, and roams about looking for company. When he thinks he's alone, even if he's not, he cries in his little white kitty voice until someone assures him that he's okay. I think that living in the house with all those cats, even though he was isolated from direct contact from them with just one friend inside a cage, has made him a far more social cat than you'd expect. He likes to be near people and near Lucky, although he doesn't like to be too near Lucky. He's wanting to play, though. He'll stalk Lucky, and then when Lucky looks his way Mojo sits very neatly with his front feet tight together in a tidy package, satisfied that he got at least a look. His Mojo distance of happiness appears to be about two to three feet. If there's someone or Lucky within two to three feet he's happy.

Andrea is knitting scarves again--it's that time of year--and Mojo *loves*, not a little bit but *adores* balls of yarn. They are the best toy ever and he doesn't care one wit if it's a cliche'.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
All in all, I think Mojo is content here. In this pic Huntress is on top of the chair back and Rory's leaning against the chair. Huntress protested when Mojo first settled in, but then she decided to ignore him. He's happy as a little white kitty can be.

Meanwhile, Nanowrimo continues apace. I've got a lot of writing ahead of me, so here goes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not again!

We rang the bell and after a moment the grage door rolled up. A couple of people looked at us with puzzled expressions.

"We're here to see Tim," I tell them.

A third, older man comes down a set of side stairs. "We're here to see Tim?" I offer, since no one else ventured any information.

"Oh," he said. "No one told me you'd be coming."

"I emailed," I said.

"Well come on in. How'd you hear about us? Catlink or Pet Finder?"

"Pet Finder," Orion says.

The smell slaps us in the face the moment the door opens. They say meth houses smell like cat piss. Well this place smells like a meth house, and more. Its eye-watering, nose-covering bad and I'm grateful I'm sick. I'm sure it helps deaden the smell and when I cough A. I have a handerkerchief already handy and B. I can explain I'm sick and not have the caretaker give me a hairy eyeball for making a physical comment about the state of the house.

It's full of cats. Last month they had 200, and fortunately many of them were adopted out. He searches for Tim, and finds him. Big Bengal cross, and boy is he shy. The caretaker explains that most of the cats at the facility are or were feral. Tim's a hard case. He's been there two years and he's still incredibly shy.

Why are we here, do you ask? Because Orion pointed out that both he and Andrea lost pets this summer, and Andrea got to adopt one. It seems only fair ...

Yeah, I'm a soft touch.

Unfortunately Orion can't get near Tim. Apparently only the caretaker, and strangely me, can touch him. Tim allows me to pet him, but he makes himself flat. It's not a very convincing flatness, because he's so big. He's a sweetie, and so good natured considering that he's terrified.

Orion wanders. And wanders. And wanders. There are so many cats hiding in bookshelves, tucked in cages, curled up on scratchposts, nibbling on food, playing, chasing, scurrying underfoot that it's overwhelming. There's a poodle in the mix. Someone found him on the side of the road and brought him to the cat shelter. Why, they don't know, but there was no room at the nearest humane society so he's there among the cats, confused and scared and lonely and wondering what the heck he was doing with all these cats. The cats wondered too.

We play with lots of cats. I fall in love with a calico with fur as soft as a rabbit's and twice as glossy. She literally shines wherever she goes. Orion plays with a cute black and white kitten, but I say no. A. Black and white and all black kitties are reliably obnoxious about being vocal and B. he obviously has or has had ringworm.

It sounds like a house of horrors, and in many ways it is, but not for the cats. They're warm. They're safe from predators. They have plenty of food and clean water. They get medical treatment, including for the ringworm that so many feral cats have. And they're altered so that they don't have to suffer through pregnancy or hormonal rages that put them at risk for injury. The FLV positive cats have their own room and don't spread the disease to other cats. It's a very good thing, though it sure doesn't smell that way.

We land beside a cage, overwhelmed, when a small white kitten about four months old reaches through the bars and snags my shirt. "Mew!" He has such a soft yet insistent voice. He's not pure white either. He's unusual. If you can imagine a pure white siamese but with ginger instead of dark coloring, that's him. He has ginger tabby stripes on his tail and ginger ears. It's a red-eared hound! Only, er, not. He looks up at me with big blue eyes.

"Now he has serious personality," the caretaker tells us. "Want to pick him up?"

We had picked up a lot of cats, including a black kitty that likes to ride shoulders like Lucky and fiesty ones and cuddly purr muffins, but this one, yes, he has personality. He likes to be petted but only X amount of pressure, and his body leans away from the stroke to adjust so that you're petting him only just so much. He loves to be carried. He has a tender, ready purr and he's trusting, but not too trusting. Any noise, bump, sudden movement and he hides, but then he comes right back out as if to say 'If you're still out here I guess it must be okay. But next time it might not be so don't forget to hide too!'

We filled out the papers and took little Mojo home. He's our first white cat and he'll be all indoors. White cats are particularly vulnerable to predators, and also are prone to ear cancer.

Here's our Mojo all happy at home. He looks a lot younger in the pic than he actually is: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I mean it this time. No more animals. I'm putting my foot down! All you strays out there, you better not show up at our back doorstep because you're out of luck.

Unless you're really, really cute.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A moment of regret

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I had a moment today. While I was walking through the garden I was thrown momentarily back in time to spring. I suddenly longed for spring, and the summer to come. I normally love autumn but I wished with all my heart that it was spring, and it made me sad to see just a very few bees humming among the very last of the flowers. Not so long ago there was so much activity in the wildflower bed that you could hear it a good distance away. When the sun hit it, you could see silver sparkles where the insects flew and leapt among the blossoms.

I had a hard time gathering seeds. The birds have really picked them over. But I got enough, I hope, a future garden in little zip lock bags.

We'll get our first really hard frost soon and I'll forget all about this, snug in a house that smells of cinnamon and spiced cider, taking pictures of frost heave, enjoying how fluffy the goats are, and being able to see the birds in the feeder when the leaves are all gone. But for a moment, I had regret.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I just spent a wee bit of time saving my recent work onto Snape, both writer's workshop stuff as well as my Nanowrimo novel WIP, the most recent Masks edit, and some new stuff that I played with but set aside for now due to time constraints. I feel a little safer about my data after a Finder crash earlier today.

I know what's wrong with Gypsy. Her b-tree is corrupted. I know, I know, say it ain't so, Kami, say it ain't so! I've known about this problem for a long time, but we've lived with the instability and uncertainty for quite a while and I'm sort of used to it. There are certain things that the directory won't support anymore, like changing email identities and then trying to send out emails, going to certain websites, and sneezing on a Tuesday. Those things are annoying but recoverable. The Finder going kaput for a bit this morning, though, scared me. So I took some precautions. Snape has his issues (big time!) but he doesn't appear to have any symptoms that might suggest that his hard drive is starting to fizz. True, b-tree corruption may not necessarily point the bitter black finger of death in the direction of our hard drive, but it's one of those things like coughing up blood where I wouldn't necessarily ignore it and assume everything will be okay.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Since I never have enough to do around here, I decided to help Andrea out by steam cleaning her carpet before her dad installed her brand new bed from IKEA (thanks to the generosity of grandma--yay grandma!) If only I'd known. Well, even if I'd known there would be mold growing on the actual furniture, the result would have been the same. It would have to go. But I wasn't prepared to toss out not just her bed, which we suspected was the source of unkempt smell (it wasn't, surprisingly) but her dresser as well. So off I go to the store, where I bought three each of three sizes of white rubbermaid drawers and a clear bin with a blue lid for her storage needs. I thought she'd be put off by the results when she came home, but she was delighted. Thank goodness, because I don't know how these things got moldy in the first place and plastic is not conducive to mold growth. It might have been a problem with the manufacturing, actually, since her bookshelves and computer desk were fine, but I'll never be sure.

It wasn't fun to spend the money but it was fun to get the storage stuff from Elvis, an old man that used to be a woman, a woman who used to be a man, Lucille Ball, a housewife in pjs and curlers, and other riff raff at the store.

Nano is starting in just over an hour. I was going to write today, but cleaning up around here took all the spunk out of me. I don't think I even have any spit or vinegar left. It isn't just bone-weariness. All that dust and mold cleanup done over the last two days left me snuffly and with a sore throat. The boy is snuffly too. Andrea, however, is blissfully asleep in her new bed, and I'm sure she's very happy that she doesn't have to sleep on the futon upstairs like she did last night. I'd love to be asleep too. Maybe I can arrange for that.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Time management issues

Kami swipes the key reader and opens the door to her blog. She turns on a light, revealing a warm color on one wall. Somewhere a prism is creating a rainbow. Everything looks too tidy, except for a fine film of dust. The bed hasn't been slept in for days. The newspaper on her nightstand is from last week. Moonlight glows on the diaphanous curtains. It's late night out in the world. She wants to stay, to snuggle in and write about her day, her week, her life. She's exhausted and willing, but there are Things to Do. OryCon 29 is closing in. Nanowrimo will begin in a few days. Mundane things about the house demand attention, like put away the pork roast before bed and don't forget to give the dog her pill. And she has to get to bed, the real one in the world outside her blog, because she has to get up early in the morning and stay up to go to work. Never mind writing, never mind a few minutes working on art or setting up a mat, and unfortunately, never mind getting deep into a blog entry.

She sets down her stuff on the kitchen nook table--thoughts about a coworker that wanted kittens in her life and then crumbles when she gets slapped with real responsibility, the decision to go ahead and Nano "Mayhem," urges to whine about the difficulties of juggling information with other volunteer jugglers who are definitely out of sync with her rhythm. She gets out her portfolio of images from the sleepy garden, glorious sunrises viewed from the deck, animal portraits, and fans them out on the table. For a moment she lingers, thinking maybe she could spare a few moments--and then reality knocks on the door.

Kami sighs and checks her purse, making sure she has the key reader to her blog before she answers the door. Sure enough, she has to go. She turns out the light. It's just moonlight in the room now, turning everything silver-blue. She walks out, the door shuts, and once again the blog becomes a ghost behind her.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Picture Day

We had gorgeous sunshine so I took some pics inside while I could. Top of my list, of course, had to be:
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Dakota is a sad dog today. She misses her family. Maybe a bit of bacon will improve her spirits.

Wizard is comfortable enough with Dakota already that he rubbed up against her for snuggles. She jumped back because she's already been tagged by the vicious Huntress. I have a feeling Wizard and Dakota will become good friends.

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That's a DOG? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha! Good one. What is it really? I'm guessing a giant tribble, which only confirms that the other dogs are Klingons. I knew that all along.

Dakota is very leery and nervous of the other dogs, especially the puppies who are far too boisterous for her. We're not pushing her. She'll be inside dog and they'll be outside dog and there's no need for them to form a pack. I suspect though that eventually, when the puppies calm down (sometime in three or four years?) she'll actually enjoy time outside with them. For now, we're keeping them separate. Poor Brian wanted to play so bad, and licked her face, and jumped around and ran trying to get her to chase him, basically making an idiot of himself to get her to like him. Her response? Attempt to leave. I put him back in with the sea of unconditional love, where he told the other dogs how awesome she was. Heh.

Irish wolfhound lab mix? Hmm. I haven't had a good close look at an Irish wolfhound face in quite a while. To me her face screams terrier. Any alternate guesses?


So this weekend, because we really don't have enough on our plates, we went to see a woman about a dog.

This all started with an email. Actually, it started with Andrea thinking about adopting a small dog to have as a house pet. So when we got the email, we were primed to be soft-touches.

Dakota is an eleven year old lab/irish wolfhound mix, emphasis on the lab. Her original owner, who trained her very, very well by the way, ended up in a housing situation (namely having no housing to call his own) where he couldn't both crash on the couches of generous friends and keep his two dogs. So Dakota ended up in a no-kill shelter. Along comes a family that takes Dakota home. This sounds like a happy ending, and it was happy for everyone, but then the youngest daughter's eczema started really acting up. They did some tests and ack! she is badly allergic to the dog. Not the snuffling, sneezing kind but the horrible rash kind. And medicating her heavily until she moves out of the house didn't sound like a good option. They'd already torn out all the carpet in the house trying to bring her eczema under control Dakota couldn't stay.

So they searched and searched, and their email was spread far and wide looking for anyone who could take Dakota in. She was posted online with various humane society groups. No nibbles. Two separate sets of friends offered to take her in, but they weren't dog people and probably wouldn't be able to handle dogness in the house. And Dakota is most definitely an inside companion dog, exactly what Andrea was looking for. So when a friend of a friend of this family emailed us, we gave it serious thought. And went to visit. Of course it was all over at that point. Dog in need, dog who is very quiet, obedient, smaller than we expected considering the bloodlines, dog who laid her head in Andrea's lap and gave her the worried help-me look, oh yeah, we were sunk.

That was Saturday, and Sunday they drove Dakota to our place. The sea of unconditional love went ballistic, of course, not in a bad way just waaaay to excited for a lone, older dog who is very shy and retiring. So we took her in the back way, putting off the introductions for now, set up her bed, her food, her water. Andrea took her for a walk around the back and let her sniff the other dogs through the fence. And in the evening, though poor Dakota was in distress and constantly looking for her people, things settled down and Dakota hung out with us while we watched tv. And at night, she got to sleep on Andrea's bed.

Today I think she's trying to figure out where everything is and what's off limits. I'm pretty sure this is the quietest house she's ever been to, one without small children and rush hour traffic and the ambient noise of city that isn't very loud but constant, like white noise on a tv. She's going to be sad, but the family has a relative out here in Washougal and they promised to visit her. They're also happy to dog sit should we go on vacation.

Dakota is another symptom of our madness, I'm sure. We really didn't need another dog. But here she is, and I'm very glad she is. Welcome home, Dakota.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blog Action Day, plus Poopyhead virus epidemic

I guess someone decided that it was blog action day, and not just any action but green action. (Not greeeeeeeeeen!?) All I can say is that here in the Pac NW it's better than most places in that awareness is high. Apparently on the east coast, things like water efficiency, sustainable flooring and alternative insulation aren't even on the radar. One article I read in "This Old House Magazine" related that one couple hired a contractor purely for his willingness to learn how to work with green and sustainable materials because not a single contractor in their area had actually worked with the stuff. They wanted it because they'd come from California and they'd been educated to value it. Apparently in Florida, there just isn't a market for green buildings, not enough to attract a single contractor anyway. Such is the gist of the article, anyway.

Despite the constant barrage of eco-friendliness around here, however, at work I still see people ask for a plastic bag for something they could easily stick in their pocket or purse. Examples I had just in the last week:
A pack of gum (she got a dirty look from the person in line behind her but missed it)
Two small packages of cat toys (already in plastic)
A vacuum cleaner belt (which was already in its own bag too)
Two rolls of lifesavers
A lipstick and a small bottle of soap
A bottle of pop (the single serving size)
A single DVD

Then there's the bag for the bagged or luggable items. People want bags for diapers and/or adult protection undergarments despite the fact that they have a handle on them. Also, they want bags for pillows even if they have a plastic cover on them, outdoor rugs and doormats, wine boxes, the 12 packs of pop (the kind with handles,) large bomb-proof packaged toys (the kind where you require power tools to get into,) appliances, camping stuff (you really want a bag for your foldable chair in a bag? Okaaay ...) bedding in plastic carrying cases with a handle, and so forth. Many of these require our gigantic plastic bags of doom to contain. These giant bags have no handles--you end up looking like Santa Claus. BTW, if you want a free plastic bag for something else just ask. I don't have to put an item in it to give it to you, and I try to make that clear. Let's not do the ridiculous packing of the auto floor mats into a 30 gallon bag. I understand that some of these things, like the wine and the undergarments, are something you might want to hide from other customers, but on the other hand, you've just lugged them around in your shopping cart, and now all you have to do is get it to your car.

I remember these because they fill me with little Kami outrage, or at minimum, little Kami eye roll impulses. Of course, being a model employee (but a model of what?) I smile and say thank you for coming in. On the reverse side, I've had people carry an armload of stuff and say they don't need a bag. I also have regular customers who come in either with their own paper or plastic bags or a permanent canvas bag. Yay them!

On to poopyheadedness.

There must be a poopyhead virus going around. This particular strain is making people obstinant with folks that they should be nice to. In a writer's workshop I'm running I set out in the guidelines (okay, they're not laws, I freely admit that--and the workshop is being held at a pirate-themed event) that writers need to include a 500 word or less synopsis with their novel portion. Everyone understood this, except Her. Her didn't submit a synopsis, and I didn't catch it until I started organizing the sessions. So I emailed her. Where is thine synopsis? Her response (paraphrased)? I don't see why I have to submit a synopsis. What are they used for?

I assume she doesn't treat editors that she submits to in this manner, or if she does, she'll never get published. Reading and conforming to submission guidelines is part of the test that publishers and editors use to determine poopyheadedness. If you appear to follow their guidelines in good faith (or at least have your ms in industry standard format) that is a signal to them that you have spent time researching, formatting and making things in all ways easy for them, and that therefore you are unlikely to be a poopyhead to work with. No matter how brilliant your writing is, it's unlikely that a publisher will put up with poopyheadedness in today's market. There's always another writer around the corner, just as promising, who is not a poopyhead.

Even if she felt like she didn't have to follow the submission guidelines because she knows more than me, which I guess is fine (who am I after all? Well, I know a lot of the pro writers and an editor or two and I do talk to them, but never mind that she couldn't guess that) there's the fact that she can safely assume that everyone else has a synopsis and that the pros who are reviewing her work will be expecting a synopsis. When they don't get one, what will be her answer? Um, I forgot? I didn't know? Or I didn't think it was worth my time? The excuse I like best is, I wasn't interested in your opinion on my synopsis.

Also had a request to be grouped with a particular writer, and when I said I couldn't guarantee placement with anyone and promptly went on vacation, the same person asked my good friend who graciously served as stand-in for me the same question. As if we wouldn't talk. Ha! Another writer asked to be in a one-on-one. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to be all nice and PR-y to these people. Out of my workshop, so there! And if you're one of these people and reading this, I hope you're blushing with embarrassment. You should. Grow up a little. You shouldn't expect special treatment. The "I paid good money" argument doesn't fly. So did everyone else, and btw $5 for a workshop with luminaries like Ursula LeGuin is not good money, it's a token fee to barely cover expenses for the workshop.

I thought the virus must be making the rounds in just the workshop, but yesterday I had a woman come in with her completed application. I inspected it and found that one of the job description packets was missing. There are two, and when I (and presumably everyone in the lobby) hand the applications out we let folks know that they need to be read, signed and returned with the application. (There is a small group of people who think we hand out those packets for their own records, which sort of makes sense but if you spend thirty seconds thinking about it you'd realize there's no reason for you to have something like that for your own records when you haven't even been hired yet.)

"Did you get both packets?" I asked, holding up the one for sales clerk.
"Well one is missing. Here, I'll get you an extra copy and you can sign it."
I've just turned aside when she says, "Do I have to have it in there?"
"Yes," I say, opening and disemboweling another application, removing the cashier packet and setting it on the counter. "They're not as likely to accept your application without it."
"But I don't know anything about cashiering." This is not mere protest--she has an edge to her voice that says I don't want to cashier.
I resist the urge to tell her goodbye, but that's not my job. I then resist the urge to go into sarcasm mode and say 'there's this thing called training ... Instead I nicely say, trying not to grit my teeth, "Well, they train you to do the job. Everyone starts out as a cashier here." Even the people who hate it. Yes, poopyhead woman, even you shall be forced to cashier even if you don't want to cashier, assuming you want a job.
She whips open the packet and signs it, giving me a dirty look.

Is she not applying for a job here? Does she not know that I got someone a quicker interview by letting our assistant manager know that the applicant who just handed this to me was dressed very nicely and was very friendly? If she doesn't recognize that we all have to work together and the only folks who have any say as to what duties they'll perform on a given day worked hard for that right, and they still have to have to do things they'd rather not do, she's not going to be a, ahem, good fit for the team, to put it in bureau-speak. So I hand over the application to the asst. manager when she's left and said, "she was very resistant to filling out the cashier packet and was pretty snippy." He didn't round file it right there, but he made the mental note.

Poopyhead virus. I've been around enough people with it, I might catch it, so I'll be sure to take extra vitamin C and get plenty of rest on my day off.

Happy Blog Action Day!

Boy, that sounded dumb. If it takes off I guess I'll just have to learn to appreciate the sincerity and proaction of the green movement.

But couldn't they have come up with a better name?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oh how we've forgotten

I got a little rant in my email box today from a chiropractor. This chiropractic office does good work, has high quality care, and I'm on their list not because I'm a patient but because periodically they help raise money for our local humane society. Our shelter is horribly outdated (a cement block structure built in the 60's more as housing for doomed animals rather than an adoption center) and far too small (do you think the population of Vancouver has increased since the 60's? Yep!) and they need a lot of money to develop a facility that will serve primarily as an adoption center. Hopefully they'll stop being seen as a place of death and more of a place of hope and mercy.


So I got this thing in my email and it ticked me off, as most alarmist mailings do. I'm going to comment (rant back) on some of it.

Quote: Did you know that the flu shot could contain anything from aluminum, formaldehyde, dangerous microorganisms, thimerosal (mercury), ethylene glycol, and other toxic adjuvants? In addition to these substances, the flu vaccine is prepared from the fluids of chicken embryos inoculated with the specific type (s) of influenza virus that supposedly protects against the strains federal health officials believe are most likely to be prevalent during the flu season. The effectiveness in preventing influenza often ranges from 30-40%. Not very encouraging considering the potential health dangers you may be opening yourself up to down the road from the toxic agents in the vaccine.

Why yes, Virginia, I did know that. Much as I dislike the toxic chemicals, how else are we going to formulate these vaccines? The flu vaccine is not alone in this composition, but I'm not going to avoid vaccinnating my children against, for example, chicken pox. This 'innocent' childhood disease nearly killed my sister. It didn't harm me much, but we both have repercussions to look forward to later in life, incredibly painful repercussions from the pox migrating and flaring up, herpes-like, in the nervous system. Shall we try to make a kinder, friendlier vaccine without formaldehyde and mercury? Go for it. Take your time putting together something with chamomile and rum. Oh wait, not rum. That's toxic too. Anyway, please do but until then I'll take the vaccine that we have.

How is the human body supposed to build immunity by being exposed to neurotoxic poisons like mercury, formaldehyde, and DNA from animals?
Actually, it builds its immunity from a crippled or killed virus (hmm, how do we kill or cripple it? Let me guess ...) which the immune system can tackle and 'learn' to destroy. The immune system is remarkable but unfortunately limited. Your immune response--some of which we can feel via fever, sneezing, coughing, etc.--can damage you (through too high of a fever, coughing that breaks ribs or damages the lungs and so forth or through an immune response that attacks your own tissues) even more than the buggy that's bugging you. The way the white blood cells work for their part of immune response (because they don't work alone, they're just a small piece) relies on them identifying and then eating the enemy. But much like orcs, white blood cells aren't too bright and it takes a while for them to figure out something is bad. By then the bug may have overwhelmed you or your own immune response has wiped you down to nothing. I assume as licensed medical types that chiropractors know this, and yet they ask this dumb question. For a vaccine we require: a virus, a means to kill or cripple it so that it won't infect you, and a medium to transport it so that the virus isn't so broken down that it no longer exists in a recognizable form. Most viruses are very fragile and require something vaguely alive and meat-like to keep from breaking down. Hence, the animal parts.

Quote: Mercury is the second most toxic material on the planet. The first is radioactive plutonium. To make thimerosal, they start with elemental mercury. Then, they hop it up 1,000 times by converting it to ethyl mercury. Then, they add aluminum to the vaccine that has a synergistic effect with the mercury, causing it to be 10,000 more toxic than elemental mercury. Mercury is used to sterilize the flu vaccine.

Yay! I would much rather have a sterile vaccine than a non-sterile one. Shall we use something else? I guess we can, and we should explore that, but let's make sure that A. it's effective so I don't get injected with a virus that might kill me and B. it doesn't effect our bodies even worse than the mercury. The trick, too, is that if you use something *less* toxic than you have to either have more of it (which will probably bump it up to the same toxicity and we'll get a bigger shot, yay) or the virus has to be particularly sensitive to the toxin. Let's hope we're not particularly sensitive to the toxin too. And here's the kicker--the virus has to be crippled or killed *but not destroyed*. It must be preserved. Hmm, could this be why they use formadehyde? Genius!

Quote: Consider this insanity; they tell us that it's unsafe to touch, breathe or swallow the mercury from a broken thermometer yet it's perfectly acceptable to inject the same poison directly into your body through the flu shot or other vaccines. In fact, you can't even find mercury based thermometers on the market anymore. Don't worry ˆ Big Pharma knows what's best for you!

Goodness, do they know how much mercury there used to be in a thermometer vs. the microscopic quantity there is in a vaccine? But, it's bad, so while we're at it, let's stop eating fish. Why? Because all the fish on the market today has mercury in it and farm-raised fish, especially ocean-raised, have the highest quantities of mercury. Guess what? Everything you put in your body has toxins in it. Some of them you can control, some you can't. The tiny dose of mercury, formaldehyde and so forth you get in a single vaccine isn't going to measure up to a lifetime of eating fish, and let's not mention smokers. Smokers need not pay any attention to all this nonsense. Because--

Quote: Now let's look at formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is classified as a toxic, colorless, water-soluble gas having a suffocating odor. It's used predominantly in embalming fluid and vaccines as a disinfectant and preservative. There are no long-term safety studies that vaccine manufacturers can draw from to validate the effectiveness of the flu shot. Those that take the shot are the safety studies and only 10% of the side effects associated with vaccines are ever reported to federal agencies. In fact, a simple search on the Internet will lead you to literally thousands of websites and stories that report on vaccine injuries, including the flu shot. What you find will not put you at ease if you've bought into this myth.

Formaldehyde is also in cigarettes. How long do those take to do you in? Seems to me that the exposure to small quantity of formaldehyde in a vaccine pales to a single night spent in a bar, but honestly, I haven't run the numbers. Even so, I myself who hung out with smokers and doesn't mind standing downwind from a smoker am not concerned about exposure to this particular chemical in miniscule doses anymore than I'm concerned about arsenic in bottled water. (What? you say? Heh. And yet I don't see people falling over from drinking Aquafina. Hmm.)

What will also not put you at ease are the deaths from flu. The most vulnerable are the elderly and young children. You have to weigh the risks for yourself. No one has to get the flu shot. If you're a strong, healthy chiropractor you can spout on about how you're never going to get a flu shot, and good for you. You're not vulnerable. You can live a happy, comfortable life with the vaccines you received as a child under your parent's care (*cough* hypocrite!) and not have to worry about a significant threat to your existance. (BTW, Mr. Chiropractor, you better damned well be taking periodic shots for hepatitis because otherwise I don't want you touching me!) But wait, what about the people who are threatened by the flu? I had the flu two years ago. My daughter actually asked my mother at one point if I was going to die. No, of course not, but I was very, very weak. It was the sickest I've been since college when I had the flu and could not stand on my own--I crawled to the bathroom. This time I was bedridden for two weeks and I couldn't do anything significant beyond walking to the bathroom and dressing myself for a month. But I survived. I didn't *need* the flu shot and didn't *need* to expose myself to those chemicals.

Hence the list from hospitals around the nation: If you are immune compromised, if you have a young child in day care, if you are elderly or a health care worker (who can not only get the flu but, while knocked down, get something else in the process from the hospital) then for pity's sake get protection. The flu is not conquered. Antibiotics don't do anything for the viral forms, and let's not get into anti-viral medications if you're paranoid about putting toxic stuff into your body. A single vaccine vs. how many weeks of medication?

Quote: If the public were fully informed and aware of all the ingredients that went into the flu shot, there would be a mass exodus away from it.

That would be a bad thing. If you knew you would be exposed to a deadly disease and the doctor said that the only preventative they had was only 40% effective at best, would you blithely say "Nah, I'll take my chances. Thanks!" Would it matter if the disease killed only rarely these days? What if we called it cancer? We have a high success rate of defeating some forms of cancer, so if it was one of those, would you pass on the vaccine? What if we called the disease herpes--that doesn't kill at all. Would you take a vaccine that was only 40% effective at best?

Some people claim that vaccines may cause autism. The jury is still out (though most are convinced it does not) but still, even if it does, it boils down to this. Honestly weigh the risks. This disease vs. that. This problem vs. another. Life is risk. Once you accept that you can make a rational decision that is inclusive of all options and can place those options in proprotion to what is most important to you.

Just don't forget about the fish, and try to remember what a real risk is vs. a phantom one, lest we forget what flu epidemics do to a society.

Great, now I've just created a downturn in the fish market. (Calling my stock broker...)